Have I ever mentioned Trish and Mickie? I’m kidding, this post isnt about that, I promise. But as we continue on the path of 2006 we look at the rest of January, including the Royal Rumble, WWE TV for the month, and more.
As anyone who reads my stuff would know by now, WWE is generally my area of alleged “expertise”. But as I look through the annals of yesteryear, most of the things I find will be WWE, but there’s also good stuff from TNA, US indies, Puro, lucha, a bit of everything. And hey, if something extracurricular grabs my WWE lovin’ eye you’ll know its especially worth checking out.
So in that vein, TNA. I’m not going through 12 months of Jarrett main events or anything, but this is still the heyday of the X Division and what can be called a high point in company history, and for that its worth revisiting. Joe was still on his initial “undefeated” run, and at Final Resolution he defends against Chris Daniels, whom he had beaten to a bloody pulp a few months beforehand to turn the unbelievably unlikeable Daniels into a revenge-seeking babyface. This is a typically good X Title match with some cool pulp-beating and revenge-seeking from Joe and Daniels respectively, with a great finish to build upon the angle of Joe as a completely murderous bastard.
Also, for curiosity’s sake, on the undercard of this PPV was a young, unknown Junior Heavy from Japan who worked a short, uninteresting match with AJ Styles. You might have heard of him if you’re at all interested in Puro since he went on to make a bit of a name for himself, the ol’ Hiroshi Tanahashi.
Anyway, January means of course its time for the Royal Rumblus (yeah, that was this year), abd its all about a little Hispanic Superstar called
Eddi- Rey Mysterio. But seriously folks, complain about the booking all you want (and justifiably), but REY MYSTERIO WON THE ROYAL RUMBLE. Thats all I cared about watching it live, and thats all I care about watching it back. He won, and it was awesome. The Rumble itself is really good, not at the tippy top level but great and plenty of fun to be had throughout. Rey, Hunter and Orton were all great in it as the survivors, and the finish RULED. Literally blew the roof off. I love Rey.
One thing I forgot to mention last time regarding Edge and Cena, is that Edge also had quite the month on TV. There was the infamous Live Sex Celebration that drew insane ratings and exposed Edge’s package and Lita’s nipple to the world. Then the first-ever singles TLC match with, of course, the 156 year old Ric Flair, who had his first ladder match and worked like an 156 year old madman. Tonnes of fun though. And on the go-home Raw for the Rumble there’s a super fun tag match, Edge and Masters vs Cena and Flair in Charlotte. Stay away from the Rumble title match though, sadly its really quite a nothing match.
Speaking of the Rumble and nothing matches, Kurt Angle vs Mark Henry. Its amazing how this has been mythologised over the years. Its the worst PPV main event ever, its the only bad match Angle ever had, its the reason why Henry is the worst ever, etc. I mean, please. So you watch it knowing all that and…well, it wasnt any good. Not even I am arguing that. But it wasnt all that terrible a match either. If anything it was just put together really badly – the first half with some familiar big/little man spots was fine, but from there it kind of fell off a cliff and ended with the babyface Angle cheating for no reason to win. Whatever. But hey, WORST MATCH EVER and all that.
Its a crying shame that this somehow closed the book on Henry’s 2006 run, and for some his entire career, when if you actually watch this period of Smackdown he was quite awesome. From the moment he came back and DESTROYED the main event babyface team of Rey and Batista, he was a great monster just wrecking people. And even more to the point, forget the Angle match because its THE REY MYSTERIO MATCH you need to see. Well there were two, both were great, but Rey vs Henry on the 20th was just Oh My God level awesome. Rey was the greatest Rey ever and Henry was the greatest monster ever, and the finish is legit out of this world amazing. I’m not even going to describe it, I want you to go and watch it now, you wont regret it.
Speaking of Smackdown in January, we need to speak about Benoit vs Orton. They began the year finishing the Best of Seven series in the absence of Booker T, and then came back afterwards with a No Holds Barred match for good measure, which ended up being their best match of all. This was a great brawl, with super levels of physicality and intensity. Orton and Benoit in their day were probably the two guys with the best physical work in the company, and man do they just get it done here. This was a great struggle throughout, they used weapons extremely well, and the finish was another good one. I had come in thinking that Orton had an unimpressive 2006 as a boring SD heel, but he’s certainly off to a good start in my book.
Finally, if its C Show action you’re after, then look no further than the Londrick vs Pitbulls match from Velocity 28/1. This is a cool little preview of both the great year London and Kendrick are about to have, and of the beatings that Noble and Kash would distribute in their criminally short run as a team. Londrick take an Almighty ass kicking here, and of course bring it with their cool flippy tag team offense in return. All thats missing is JBL putting everyone over on commentary. Give it time though.
January Top Five:
Trish Stratus vs Mickie James, WWE New Year’s Revolution
Shelton Benjamin vs Viscera, WWE New Year’s Revolution
Rey Mysterio vs Mark Henry, WWE Smackdown 20/1
Chris Benoit vs Randy Orton (No Holds Barred), WWE Smackdown 27/1
Edge vs Ric Flair (TLC), WWE Raw 16/1
Next stop: February. Featuring more of the X Division Three, GENICHIRO TENRYU, and a Kurt Angle Match that I…love?